Diving in Curaçao
Curaçao is the largest of the A-B-C (Aruba - Bonaire - Curaçao) island chain at 37 miles long and just over 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. A shallow shelf encircles the island, followed by a vertical drop-off The drop-off begins at 30 to 40 feet and descends to well over 100 feet and is typically not far from the beach, making it an ideal place for shore diving. Curaçao has over 80 dive sites – most of them accessible by shore. Three of Curaçao’s must dives are; Mushroom Forest, Wreck of the Superior Producer and Hell’s Corner.
Mushroom Forest has been repeatedly rated one of the world’s best dives by Sport Diver magazine. This dive site got its name from the mountains of star and boulder coral that have a mushroom-like appearance due to decades of erosion from sponges and clams. As you swim between the towers of coral you will spot numerous species of fish such as parrotfish, grouper, green and spotted morays, yellowtail snapper, smooth trunkfish and spotted drum fish.
The Superior Producer is a 240-foot cargo ship that sank in 100 feet of water off the coast of Curaçao, just beyond the bustling harbor of Willemstad. The ship was filled beyond its capacity with clothing and crates of whiskey, headed to Venezuela for the Christmas shopping season, and left the port against the captain’s recommendation. It sank almost immediately after leaving the port and can be accessed by either boat or shore. The Superior Producer sits upright with its wheelhouse at 80 feet and the hull at 100 feet. This wreck dive site is one of the top 10 dive sites in Curaçao and one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. When exploring this ship, you will find barracuda, blackbar soldierfish, grouper, yellow and purple tube sponges and sea anemones.
Hell’s Corner, by the tip of Santa Martha Bay, gets its name from having unpredictable currents. With little protection from the open ocean and nearby steep cliffs, this site is for experienced divers who will be rewarded with a wealth of marine life including large gorgonians, schools of jacks, sea turtles, spotted and green morays, barracudas, tube sponges, and spiny lobsters along with an assortment of incredible brain coral.
Curaçao’s climate allows for year-round diving with water temperatures averaging a warm 78-80 °F with visibility at 80 to 100 feet. A few of Curaçao’s topside attractions are, Museum Kura Hulanda, Seaquarium, The Curaçao Ostrich Farm, Floating Bridge, and the Dolphin Academy. In addition to its diving, Curaçao offers a large selection of sports activities, for all ages including hiking, biking, bird watching, horseback riding, paintball, sailing and more.
See Curacao’s dive sites here.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
Every person entering Curaçao, including all North American citizens (Americans
and Canadians), should be in possession of a valid passport and a valid return
EXIT REQUIREMENTS: There is a departure tax of $32(US) per person.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Curaçao. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at www.cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
The Curaçao culture is influenced by African and European cultures. One of the distinguishing marks of the famed Curaçao culture is its festivals. Curaçao’s annual festival known as “Curaçao Carnival”, is rapidly gaining attention worldwide.
Ancient Carnival began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of “Carne Levale,” or giving up meat for Lent. In the 19th century, Curaçao continued the tradition by organizing masquerade parties and marches in private clubs. It wasn’t until 1969 that Curaçao’s Carnival started to gain the popularity it enjoys today. It’s one of the largest and longest lasting Carnival spectacles of the Caribbean—starting in early January, and ending late February/ March. It is a gathering of different cultural groups showing their cultural heritage. The Curaçao community is composed of more than 52 ethnic groups (mostly of African and European descent).
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Curaçao is 127 volts at 50 cycles. This means that most appliances made in the USA will work well, except for electrical devices with internal time mechanisms. For electrical appliances from the USA you do not need an adapter plug.
Curacao’s country code is 599. Direct dial service is fast and clear and whether for local or long-distance calling, it's common to use prepaid phone cards, which are widely available and accepted around the island.
Internet service is widely available in Curaçao.
The water service in Curaçao is reliable and the water supply is safe to drink straight from the tap.
Language & Currency
Papiamentu is the local language, but Dutch, English and Spanish are all widely spoken and understood. Papiamentu is a form of Creole indigenous particularly to Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, where it is considered the national language. You'll sound like a pro if you say "Bon Dia" (Good Morning) to the locals.
The local currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called the florin.) The exchange rate is set at Naf 1.77 to USD $1. The exchange U.S. dollars circulate freely, so it is possible to get by using only American dollars or credit cards. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere on the island. Check the current exchange rate here.
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time, one hour later than US Eastern Standard Time (the same time as Eastern Daylight Savings Time).
History, Art, and Culture
The Amerindian Arawaks were the 1st inhabitants of Curaçao, before the Spanish lieutenant Alonso de Ojeda visited the island in 1499. In 1634, long after the Spanish had abandoned Curaçao, the Dutch West Indies Company claimed the island. In 1642, Peter Stuyvesant was installed as governor and Curaçao soon became a Dutch commercial center and developed extensive slave trade activities. The plantations were successful in growing peanuts, maize, and fruits, and the production of salt was also discovered - dried from the island's saline ponds.
During this period, the local language Papiamentu - a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African dialects, developed by the slaves - became the main means of communication.
In 1920, oil was discovered off the Venezuelan coast which signaled a new era for Curaçao. The island became a center for distilling crude oil imported from Venezuela, and Curaçao's Royal Dutch Shell Refinery became the island's biggest business and employer.
In modern times, Curaçao has expanded its infrastructure and modernized. The refinery is still big business, and now a large desalinization plant provides the island's potable water.
Check out Curacao’s current news and events.
Location and Size
Curaçao is in the southwestern Caribbean, 42 miles east of Aruba, 30 miles west of Bonaire and approximately 40 miles north of South America. It is world’s newest country, as of October 10, 2010 and is 37 miles long and 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles.